Thank you, Chair.
As I said, when I was first elected in 2019, I visited the community of Denare Beach. It was brought to my attention that the community was owed a significant amount of money by the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. The population of Denare Beach is about 800 people. Part of their community consists of the Amisk Lake reserve, which is one of the eight communities of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. There are 37 properties that are part of the Amisk Lake reserve in this community of about 500 properties.
Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and the Village of Denare Beach have a service agreement that consists of water and sewer, fire, animal control, street maintenance, recreation, garbage and recycling. In essence, it's an agreement that basically is in lieu of property taxes and municipal services.
I raised this issue with your predecessor and his chief of staff, starting way back in March 2020 and many times after. I brought this issue up with your deputy minister on January 24, 2022, shortly after you were appointed minister. I was assured that the ministry was aware of and had approved this agreement, and we received promise after promise of the region's being committed to resolving this issue. It still hasn't. That's over three years later, Minister.
On January 2, 2023, the village was owed about $240,000. That doesn't include the 2023 invoice yet, which will bring the total to over $300,000. Again, to put this into perspective, the village's total annual property taxes are just over $500,000, so $300,000 owing to them is very, very significant to their community.
At my request, the village leadership has shown significant patience with the process as we have tried to work at this behind the scenes. Quite frankly, I think that patience is becoming undeserved. Minister, the leadership of the village has been put in an untenable situation because of the unwillingness or the inability of ISC to ensure that the service agreements they have approved and funded are honoured and paid, but this community's patience has run out. Denare Beach does not want the promise of more meetings, nor the promise of phone calls or follow-ups. In their own words, they just need ISC to pay the bill. If not, they're going to be forced to shut off the water and stop responding to fire calls, animal control and all the other services in this agreement in order to collect what is due to them.
Minister, my question is actually quite simple. Can you commit to the people of Denare Beach—who, by the way, are watching today—that this will be resolved immediately to ensure that there is no disruption of service? In other words, is there a commitment in these estimates to just pay this bill?